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September 08, 1983 - Image 78

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-09-08

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By Rob Weisberg
There are lots of bands and lots of
bars. Put the two together and you
usually get, plop, another night of stale
music you've heard a zillion times
before. But there are exceptions.
One easy way out is to check out
School of Music productions, which are
free and in lovely auditoriums like Hill
and Rackham. But that's not bands
(small ones, anyway) or bars. Another
comparatively new alternative, at least
in this town where new pop-oriented
musical trends are usually caught by
the tail, is the hardcore
(thrash/speedrock, call-it-what-you-
will), postpunk scene. Music that's fast,
furious, sometimes funny, often laced
with acerbic social commentary. You
didn't think they had that in this town.
Actually, hardcore (we'll make that
our word) has been around Detroit for
quite a while. There's a little indepen-
dent record label called Touch and Go
and you can catch all your fave bands
like Negative Approach and the Im-
mortal Meatmen (performing their
legendary Stomp among other things)
on disc. Usually seven or eight songs
per seven-inch record, because ac-
celeration breeds condensation. Here in
Ann Arbor there are no records yet, but
there is stuff in the works. And there's
lots of bands.
The scene revolves around the legen-
dary Community High. Hardcore is
music of the youth, the way rock and
roll was way back when. Unfortunately,
the youth in this case is almost ex-
clusively male, and there is often even
a sense of cultivated male-female
alienation, though not too much of that
exists in Ann Arbor. Nonetheless, local
audiences are usually predominantly
One of the major obstacles local har-
dcore is beginning to overcome is the
problem of getting gigs. Several factors
work against t'he bands: Owners
aren't familiar with them, and they
usually don't play covers (except

maybe "Stepping Stone" by the
Monkees or some other oddity - cf.
Minor Threat and Red C recordings).
Art Tendler, an avid proponent of the
local scene and, in his twenties, one of
its elder statesmen, suggests there is
also a "punk stigma" in the minds of
bar owners. They remember the
physically destructive activities of
seventies punk bands and their audien-
ces; they recall the time the Dead Boys
disfigured the local bar, Second Chan-
ce. Such endeavors are generally a no-
no in the hardcore rules of decorum,
however. Slam-dancing fans expend
energy by caroming from torso to torso
and occasionally come careening off
the stage, but it's all in fun. Says Ten-
dler, "I haven't ever seen a hardcore
show where things got trashed."
Another problem is a semi-
institutionalized animosity hardcore
has towards the bar scene, which Ten-
dler made a point of in a little manifesto
that his First Strike productions cir-
culated last winter. Besides misgivings
about alcohol and profit-seeking, har-
dcore proponents are particularly
bothered by the eighteen-year-old age
minimum which keeps many friends
and fans out.
Until this summer, virtually all har-
dcore gigs in town took place outside of
the bars, in alcohol-free all ages
venues. At one point Tendler had his
own place, the State House, which was
shut down two winters ago due to zoning
violations. Last year First Strike began
running benefit concerts at the Michigan
Union Ballroom, attracting fair-sized
crowds with big-name out of town acts
like the Misfits and Boston's S.S.
Decontrol. East Quad's Halfway Inn
has also recently attracted hardcore
bands and will likely continue to do so in
the fall.
Hardcore finally made it into the bars
when First Strike (under a pseudonym
due to its antibar sentiment) put
together an all-ages matinee at the
local bar, Joe's Star lounge, last June
headlined by Ohio's Necros.
Tendler points out several advan-
tages inherent in this format: parents
don't have to worry about their of-
fspring staying out too late, and the
dark aura of latenight bars is avoided;
the barowners don't have to disrupt
their regular evening schedule; it
makes for novel entertainment on Sun-
day afternoons; and most of all, it's
worked in such notable music havens as
New York's CBGB's, and in Boston,
Washington, and Detroit.

Art Tendler of The State: Leading .a youth music movement.

Another advantage is that the in-
timate size of the bars makes them
more attractive to local bands, at least
according to Tendler. The Halfway
may even be a bit too small, and lacks
an adequate sound system. But
ballroom gigs have been filled by out-
of-town and Detroit bands, in order to
bring people in; and those bands don't
like to have more than a couple of
others on the bill.
Whether afternoon hardcore will
happen in the fall probably depends on
the outcome of the Joe's gig, an event
which unfortunately postdated the
deadline for this article. Tendler is
cautiously optimistic: "I think if we
keep doing it, people will catch on", he
says. Of course, someone has to have
patience enough to let them keep doing
it. Best bets otherwise are to check out
the Halfway, which usually offers low-
cover multibanded extravaganzas, and
to keep your eyes open for bigger, and
more costly, Union shows.
Besides performing live, local bands
are also beginning to seek that elusive
vinyl. Aside from Touch and Go in
Detroit, numerous small independent,
hardcore record labels have sprung up
around the country, operating on low

overhead and releasing lots of discs.
The emphasis is usually on compilation
records featuring the music of several
bands. The idea that everyone deserves
a chance to be heard has become cen-
tral to the hardcore philosophy.
a In Ann Arbor the impetus is finally
coming from one, Wes (he prefers to be
informal) of the band 3D Jesus. He has
already helped assemble a very small
scale cassette compilation of fifteen
bands called "Just For Fun" - fifty
copies went out - and he now has
designs on a larger compilation EP.
"It's just in the planning stages", he
cautioned last June, but he added that
several bands including Dis-Missile,
the Grind, Ground Zero, Sudden Death,
and 3-D Jesus were showing interest in
making master tapes and pitching in
the necessary funds for pressing, prin-
ting and distribution.
If it comes off, this will represent a
fairly serious effort: 500 to 1000 copies,
with plenty of promotional records sent
to radio stations - a way to spread the
word about Ann Arbor hardcore and to
gain some credibility. Sort of a Cruisin'
Ann Arbor album, thrash-style.
But why such a long wait before it
happened? According to Wes, "For a
while it looked like nobody wanted to
put in the initial effort." So he decided
that if nobody else would, he would.
And, "If one band does it, everybody
follows the trend."
Tendler also talks about compilation
records, -and possibly even the creation
of a local counterpart to Touch and Go.
He adds names like Guardians of
Chaos, the Lunatics, and the'Variables
to the list of possible contributors. But
right now he and his band, The State, are
working on their own thing - an eight
song, seven-inch record due out in the
All this amounts to a thriving and
comparatively new music scene in Ann
Arbor, an escape from bar dormancy.
The bands are young, energetic, and
they play hard, even if they miss a few'
beats here or there. If it sounds ex-
citing, maybe the Ann Arbor hardcore
scene is the place to be. On the other
hand, for those who love hearing their
favorite Journey covers... .

By Mare Hodges
F YOU THOUGHT the University was
all study and not fun, the joke's on
you. Local comedy groups offer a cor-
nucopia of performed and written
humor for students who long to see
somebody funnier than their chem
prof. Ann Arbor has a group of pseudo-
SCTV nuts who call themselves the
Sunday Funnies, a nightclub that
features weekly stand-comics, and a
magazine that thrives on the bizzare.
Be it an entire troupe, the media, or a
weekly splash of jokes, those who think
there is no time for laughs, between
midterms, finals, and term papers have
something else coming-a semester of
laughs, jokes, and side splitting
Sponsored by the University Ac-
tivities Center (UAC), the Sunday Fun-
nies comedy troupe produces a weekly
comedy show with sketches and
humorous music all written, produced,
directed, and performed by un-
The group started in 1980 when three
students came up with the idea for a
one-time live comedy show. They didn't
spend much time as a fledgling comedy
troupe, however. UAC took them under
its wing, and soon the Funnies was
calling itself "Ann Arbor's own
comedy troupe."
This past year the troupe served as
"comic relief" at the Mr. Greek Week
pageant as well as producing their won
show at the Michigan Theater last
December. Since the Michigan is one of
the larger auditoriums in town, the
troupe's successful date there was a big
step. Last year they even traveled off-
campus shows as far away as Traverse
City and Southfield, and appeared on
local cable Channel Nine.
The Sunday Funnies tries its hand at
a wide variety of humorous
material-from satire, to slapstick, to
vaudeville, to psychological comedy,
even the absurd. Unlike their contem-
poraries, however the troupe refrains
from political or topical humor, which
keeps their shows refreshing, original,
and offering something for everyone.
Gargoyle Magazine, SF's cohort on
the Ann Arbor comedy scene, adds an
often bizzare twist to the humor scene
at the University.
"We try to present some kind of
twisted reality," says editor Lloyd
Dangel. "Our motivation is humor and
weirdness, trying to show people the
silly side of things."
Started in 1906, the Gargoyle enjoys a
long history which has seen it swing
from a humor magazine to a literary
publication and then back again. The
current editors want to continue the
tradition of humor as long as they can
maintain a staff, according to Dangal.
"I'm not weird but some people on the
staff are and they intimidate
people-make weird noises and wear
funny clothes. But tell anyone who's in-
terested we have meetings every Sun-

Within their humorous tradition,
however, the magazine tries to be as
diverse as possible, says Dangel. "We
try our best to change the format as
radically as we can every issue so no
one can tell what we're doing."
The Gargoyle' comes out as a
magazine three times a year and as a
newspaper once a year to save money.
Although the staff usually stays on
campus and the magazine does not cir-
culate outside the University, the group
of comedic master minds travelled to
New York City for the National Humor
Magazine Convention, an event they
parodied in one of last year's issues.
The Gargoyle is pedelled on the diag
for fifty cents an issue and it's usually
easy to recognize the sales people; they
are the only ones accompanied by a
WWI surplus bomb shell.
On a more professional note, the
kingdom of comedy also reigns at one of
Ann Arbor's nightclubs. Laugh Track, a
weekly event at the U-Club in the
Union, got its start in January of 1981
when two students, Mark Cendrowski
and Cindy Glazar, decided to pick up on
the increasing popularity of stand-up
Soon after Laugh Track was started it
was apparent that the show was a great
success and offering sponsorship, UAC
once again came to the rescue.
"The people who were class clowns in
hig$i school are offered the opportunity
to get respect for what they got in
trouble for in high school." says San-
dfor Gips, coordinator of Laugh Track
this year.
Laugh Track usually opens their
season with five local comedians. Ac-
cording to Gips, "Basically anyone
who's interested can perform."
Laugh Track not only offers aspiring
comedians a chance on the stage, they
also host some big name stand-up
comedians. Last year Dave Couwlier,
Mike Binder, Tim Allen, and Tommy
Manion appeared.
One of the first things Laugh Track is
going to do next year, says Gips, is to
step-up in their advertising program.
"Although we pack the Club pretty
regularly, there are still too many

people on campus who don't know what
Laugh Track is," says Gips.
So for all you talented comics waiting
to be discovered, here's your chance to
make it.
If it's a choice between studies or
laughs this fall, be prepared for


Sunday Funnies: Ann Arbor boasts local comedy acts.

troupe, mag
spotlight a]
plans this
bright ideas
ved Univer







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